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Middle Eastern Verse Index


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Middle Eastern poetry dates from the 6th century but like most cultures, oral poetry goes back even further. Poetry of this genre encompasses verse from the nomads of the Sahara, to the elaborate courts of Persia and the Ottoman Empire. Middle Eastern poetry includes Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Pashwan and other languages and dialects extending south into northern Africa and East into Moorish Spain. Most early Middle Eastern literature is in verse, prose came much later.

The pre-Islamic poet or sha'ir served as historian, prophet and tribal cheerleader. The sha'ir had a high status and was considered to have a special kind of knowledge which sometimes was thought to be magical. The poet began as a rawi or assistant poet to the sha'ir. The job of the rawi was to memorize the poems not only of the sha'ir but of other poets also and recite them in performance with explanation and sometimes with enhancements. Versatility and spontaneity were the hallmarks of the Middle Eastern poet, they were often called upon to recite or improvise. Sometime there would be a duel of words between poets, verse created on the spot and used as an attack.

Bedouin poets sharing the stark realities of life in verse around the campfire gave way to court poets of Arabia and Persia who wrote of love and a more idealistic existence; it was in the courts that the ghazal was created.

When Islam emerged, the early poems were considered a threat or distraction and therefore were somewhat shunned for many years. The sha'ir was too closely connected to secular pleasures and religions before Islam and therefore the Koran singled out the role of the poet for criticism. However, many early poems were preserved for their history and scholarship, the memorization and study of which ironically set the table for the study of the Koran.

Ancient Middle Eastern poetry is traditionally grouped in collections arranged by poet, tribe or topic. Often the poetry is untitled and is recognized by its first line. Many ancient verse forms are mono-rhymed and metered. Although there are distinct strophic patterns many of the verse forms might fall under the heading of meter rather than verse forms. Lines are often broken into hemistiches.

          The Waterwheel by Rumi (1207-1273) 
                      translated by Coleman Barks

          Stay together, friends.
               Don't scatter and sleep.
          Our friendship is made
               of being awake.
          The waterwheel accepts water
               and turns and gives it away,

          That way it stays in the garden,
          whereas another roundness rolls
               through a dry riverbed looking
                   for what it thinks it wants.

          Stay here, quivering with each moment
                  like a drop of mercury.

Basit Beit Beher Ghazal                  Hamd                        Hazaj
Hijv Kafi Madah                     Manqabat Landay
Marisya or Marsi                              Masnavi or                      Mathnwani Misr'a Musaddas Mutagarib
Muwashsha or girdle poem Naat Nazm Qataa Qasida Rajaz
Ramal Rubai, Rubaiyat Shair Sher Tapa Tawil
Urjuza Vaasokht wafir Zajal

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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  • 8 months later...

The Middle East

dessert tents
camels and dates
dark eyes and black beards
harem girls to burqas
strict morality police
stoning deaths and jihadi threats,
oil fields, sweet poppies, and the ghazal
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq,
Morocco, Libya, Afghanistan, Jordan,
Egypt, Yemen, United Arab Emirates,
Turkey, Mauritania and the Persian, Iran.
Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, Oman, near Kurdistan
Kingdoms and theocracies, Taliban with Sharia law.
Land of Islam, Malala, Isis, riches, always "Inshallah"
                                     ~~ Judi Van Gorder

Inshallah = God willing



Saudi palace.jpg                                   thEXVS171O morning prayer.jpg          Sahara.jpg


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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